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If worker shortage continues, customers are going to feel the negative effects

Those uninterested in the workforce shortage in our region need look no further than just a bit north to the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) to understand how severe things are … and could become.

CATA just announced it’s suspending some van/bus routes due to “unprecedented staffing shortages.”

“Similar to many businesses locally and across the country, we are experiencing unprecedented staffing shortages, CATA CEO and executive director Louwana Oliva declared. “CATA currently finds itself in the situation of not having enough employees to cover scheduled transportation service.”

CATA has “all hands on deck” and every staff member with a commercial drivers license is being asked to get behind the wheel, Oliva said.

But, she added, “staffing levels are too low to handle any type of absence.”

“If this continues, in some cases our only option will be to cancel bus trips on the spot, leading to service reliability issues,” she warned. “Think of it as similar to rolling blackouts that occur when demand is too high for the electrical grid. If we don’t attempt to shift staffing resources, our customers could be impacted with no notice.”

Here we go: A critical transportation service in Centre County cannot adequately provide its service because there aren’t enough people to work.

CATA, like River Valley Transit and many other such public transportation services, offers a variety of advance-reservation, curb-to-curb services taking people to medical appointments and other important trips.

Ridership is robust.

Indeed, ridership levels are at 300 passengers per hour as the agency has seen “a surge in mid-day ridership levels, having to turn away riders when buses become full. Some service can’t meet demand while other routes are seeing very low usage, Oliva said.

The agency said the suspension of routes should be temporary. We hope so.

Is this another example of the worker shortage worsening? We hope not.

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